Logan Erickson (left) introduces fellow students to the BOSU balls, during a FitKids session at Coquihalla Elementary. Barry Stewart photo

‘Fitkids’ challenges students to improve ‘physical literacy’

Coquihalla Elementary students learning and doing

A group of five Coquihalla Elementary teachers have come up with a new program to further enhance the school’s fitness and activity goals. It’s called “FitKids” and is a student-led program that challenges kids of all abilities to improve their balance, readiness, agility, fitness — and “physical literacy” or motivation, competence, confidence and knowledge in movements that are basic to most sports and other physical activities.

Dave Lane, Adrienne Robinson, Doug Hoshowski, Heather Link and Jenny Dobras have recently finished a two-year diploma course in physical education, through Douglas College. They form the school’s physical literacy committee and Lane and Hoshowski have taken on a leadership role with the FitKids program.

On Wednesday last week, 34 student leaders ran all the classes of the school through 16 stations they had set up in the gym. Stations included agility ladders, balance boards, BOSU balls, footwork, readiness and reaction, and aerobic work.

“When we had the Grade 4’s, we had 34 instructors and 58 students… so 92 kids in the gym at one time,” said Hoshowski a Grade 5 teacher. “They had three minutes at a station, then they rotated through. There wasn’t enough time to do all the stations, so hopefully they’ll get to them next time.”

“The idea of FitKids comes from Glenn Young, who used to work in the board office for the Surrey School District,” explained Lane, the school’s physical education teacher. “He was also one of our instructors for the graduate diploma program through Douglas College.

“Glenn developed the program to try to help his students become more physically fit and physically literate. As an instructor at Douglas College, he presented the program to us. We thought it would be a great opportunity for our school to improve the physical literacy of our students and to help them develop a greater appreciation for physical activity.”

“One of the students in our course, named Chris, had tried it in his school and said it was great,” added Hoshowski.

“One thing we learned was that P.E. does not have to be just about sports,” said Lane. “Any physical activity that promotes a positive and healthy attitude towards being physically literate is beneficial.

“There is no specific funding for the program,” said Lane. “We have borrowed equipment from the high school and from the Rec Centre. We did use ‘Innovation Money’ to have Glenn come and do the in-service with students with 34 students — Grade 5 and 6 students — who have become FitKid coaches for the rest of the student population. We plan to run the program once every four to six weeks.”

It not only encourages fitness, it also provides leadership training and experience for the student who volunteered to be coaches.

“The coaches were trained to instruct a variety of physical activities,” said Lane. “They were taught a variety of leadership skills and coaching techniques to help develop a fun and positive experience for the other students of Coquihalla.

“The FitKids program also fits in with our school Growth Plan goal of getting kids more physically active and literate,” added Lane.

School principal, Monique Gratrix checked out the earlier student-leader training session and last week’s school session.

“We brought in Glenn Young to instruct our young leaders,” said Gratrix. “The morning was full of information and teaching strategies for the ‘train the trainer’ scenario. I was so impressed with the student’s attentiveness to his instruction and later to his direction to the various activities.

“Once the students were trained, it was incredible how the students took on the teacher/trainer role with the various grade groups that went through. You could see that they truly understood and could communicate this learning onto their peers.

“All students were actively involved and on task. It was a gym full of learning and doing… exactly what our goal is for our students.”

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